“High Rise Inventory 2020 — Summary Report”

– in the Scottish Parliament on 25th June 2020.

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Photo of Graham Simpson Graham Simpson Conservative

3. To ask the Scottish Government what actions it is taking in response to the “High Rise Inventory 2020—Summary Report”. (S5O-04446)

Photo of Kevin Stewart Kevin Stewart Scottish National Party

The report on the first high-rise inventory was published on 20 March this year. The purpose of the inventory is to provide the Scottish Government with an overview of the number of high-rise domestic buildings in Scotland, together with key aspects of the construction of, and fire safety features in, the buildings. The report has been shared with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, which has confirmed that the inventory will be a valuable resource that can be used to support operational responses to fires and fire prevention activities as well as to complement its quarterly operational assurance visits.

Photo of Graham Simpson Graham Simpson Conservative

I am sure that the minister will be aware of the session that we had last week at the Local Government and Communities Committee, which looked at this issue. There were some calls for the inventory to be made public. Will the minister comment on that? There were also calls for the banning of combustible cladding in Scotland. Will he say something on that? Also, would he like to replicate the fund that the United Kingdom Government has set up for the removal of unsafe cladding? That £1 billion fund was set up by Robert Jenrick, who said:

“I will not accept any excuses from building owners who have yet to take action, and those responsible should register for the fund so that they can start the remediation process immediately.”

Will we have something similar here?

Photo of Kevin Stewart Kevin Stewart Scottish National Party

As Mr Simpson is aware, I wrote a comprehensive letter to the LGC Committee last week on a number of related issues. I was due to appear in front of the committee at the beginning of April but, of course, that was cancelled because of the pandemic. I am more than happy to appear in front of the committee after the summer to talk about these issues.

There have been suggestions that the high-rise inventory be shared with surveyors, but there is no intention to do that as part of the conveyancing process, because there are risks in relation to the general data protection regulation and other data protection issues. There is also the possibility that the inventory might be used by ne’er-do-wells. However, sharing it is something that I am willing to consider.

Mr Simpson has heard me talk about taking the advice of the independent expert panel that we put in place in relation to the importance of BS 8414. I know that there is debate among the experts, including some of the people who appeared at the LGC Committee last week, about the value of BS 8414. It is recognised as a world-leading example of testing but, as I have said to the LGC Committee previously, we will continue to look at all aspects of the issue and take the necessary actions as we move forward.

Mr Simpson mentioned Mr Jenrick, who does not seem to have his troubles to seek at the moment. What would be useful in all of this is more co-operation from United Kingdom ministers. As Mr Simpson is aware, I have written to Mr Jenrick some five times on the issue, mostly about mortgage lending and insurance, which are reserved matters. It would be useful if we had more co-operation from the UK Government.